Although men wearing makeup might not be commonplace, it is becoming a more popular choice than ever before. The countdown is on for beauty to become everyone’s business, thanks to the millions of tutorials on social media and the proliferation of male makeup brands.
Beauty, like fashion, is slowly shedding some of its deepest-rooted stereotypes and diktats. Makeup is no longer a matter of gender or sexuality. It’s a form for men and women to express themselves. You can see many videos and photos of men in makeup on social media networks like Instagram and TikTok. This phenomenon is being driven by many personalities and influencers who are helping to bring male makeup into the mainstream.
For men to begin wearing makeup, they have not to wait until 2021. It’s a tradition that has been around since antiquity and has lasted through the centuries. Many celebrities, from Johnny Depp to Prince to David Bowie, have attempted to pioneer this practice, opening the door for others, but never bringing what was considered a predominantly female domain into mainstream male society. It’s not always easy for certain codes and traditions to be broken down. Why now? Probably because the time is favourable to change, driven largely by the will of an entire generation–Generation Z–to shun labels, pigeonholes, and refuse to conform to stereotypes.
Fashion has quickly caught up and released several gender-neutral collections. It’s now up to the cosmetics industry to respond to the needs of a younger generation with more influence and buying power. It is not surprising that Japan’s younger generation is embracing men’s cosmetics. While the trend may not be exploding at an alarming rate, it is still making steady progress all over the globe. Harry Styles, an internationally acclaimed singer who wore a dress for Vogue magazine and matched it with a boa to the Grammy Awards, has largely helped shake up preconceived notions about fashion and beauty. He is one of many men who can use mascara and eyeshadow whenever they like, such as Jared Leto and many K-pop stars–all of whom are highly influential globally. These individuals also challenge certain beauty standards.
This is evident on social media with over 230 million views of the #boysinmakeup #ticktok hashtag and more than 550 million views of #mensgrooming. Male makeup is more than just a fashion trend. It is becoming a mainstream practice, thanks to unexpected events like the pandemic.
Finally, brands get on board.
Women began to ditch makeup after the pandemic and prefer a natural look. Men, however, started to experiment with makeup while their days were filled with Zoom meetings. Alex Rodriguez, a former baseball player, launched a men’s makeup line that currently includes a concealer to cover dark circles and wrinkles. The sportsman shared his thoughts on Instagram during the launch of the collection. “I realized that I was running from one meeting to the next, and needed something quick to conceal blemishes and razor bumps.” Zoom fatigue may be partly responsible for men’s sudden love affair with makeup.
The trend is evident in the numbers. Moz, a market analysis company, reported a nearly 80% increase in internet searches about “male makeup looks” in April. This was in comparison to the same time in 2019. There also appeared to be an increase in searches for tips for hiding dark circles and blemishes. The Guardian reported a 300% increase in men’s skincare sales in the first six months of 2020. This data was based on data from one U.K. retailer. These figures show that men’s makeup and cosmetics still have a lot to do.
Many beauty brands offer makeup for men. These range from the most expensive to the most budget-friendly, including Gucci Beauty, MMUK and Marc Jacobs, some of the original pioneers in this field. Even if products are not specifically designed for men, many are aimed at everyone, such as Nars Cosmetics and M.A.C. Cosmetics. The War Paint For Men brand opened the first-ever store in London dedicated to selling men’s makeup this summer. These initiatives are growing rapidly, and it appears that male makeup may soon become more mainstream.